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Karen Inge's Top 20 Nutrition and Diet Tips — Part 2

11. Make mine wholegrain
Choosing wholegrain varieties of breads and other grain foods has really given us permission to eat carbs again. Although the low carb phenomenon didn’t really cut it with the majority of Aussies. We stopped eating them after 5pm but still enjoyed carbs at breakfast and we ignored the fact that fruit is a high carb food.  So how much should we be eating? It all depends on how active we are. High carb foods such as bread, breakfast cereals, pasta, rice and other grains are the best energy foods for the brain and working muscles. Just make sure that at least half your intake of grain foods is the wholegrain variety. They are higher in dietary fibre, vitamins and minerals as well as other antioxidants.
12. Grow your gut flora
Looking after your gut flora is a hot button in nutrition. The term probiotic is more widely recognised than ever before especially if you are a yoghourt lover. Probiotics is another name for healthy bacteria or good bacteria and we need plenty of them in our gastrointestinal system to ensure that we have a well functioning bowel. That means that we don’t experience too much bloating or excessive flatulence or have problems with constipation or diarrhoea. So if you have any bowel symptoms or are having antibiotic therapy then choose a probiotic yoghourt or drink on a daily basis.
13.  Balance your plate
A balanced meal is one that has a protein source such as lean meat, fish, poultry , eggs or legumes as well as a source of carbohydrate such as potato , sweet potato, rice, pasta, bread or other grain food and vegetables/fruit. To ensure that right balance of these foods, the idea is to divide your plate into half. Fill half the plate with vegetables/salad. Then divide the other half into 2….fill half with a serve of lean meat, fish or poultry and the other half with rice, noodles etc.  And if you are trying to lose weight use a smaller plate!!
14. Choose healthy oils
You don’t have to follow a fat free diet to be healthy. Although the most concentrated source of kilojoules is fat, cutting out all fats is unnecessary and too restrictive. The key is to choose the good fats… such as olive oil and other nut and seed oils, nuts and oily fish.  Try to keep the saturated fats to a minimum. Saturated fats are found in fatty meats, full fat dairy, biscuits, cakes, creamy dressings and pies and pastries. Adding oils to vegetables or salad helps to absorb the fat soluble vitamins and that’s a good thing.
15. Keep your portions in check
The best way to do this is to reduce the size of your crockery (plates and bowls ) and glassware. It’s amazing when you see the size of bowls today compared with those of your grandmothers. The larger the bowl, the more we tend to put in it and the more we eat.  Go for smaller size bowls or start using measuring cups to keep your portions in check.
16. Taste your food before you add the salt
How many people add salt and pepper to their food before tasting? Now besides being an insult to the ‘chef’ who may have spent hours delicately adjusting the flavour of the meal, adding extra salt is not helping the health of your blood vessels or kidneys and is a risk factor for high blood pressure. Too much salt in the diet also increases calcium excretion which is not good for bone health. So next time someone passes the salt and pepper shakers to you, thank them kindly and say…I’ll taste the food first.
17. Remove the soft drink bottle from the table
When you set the table for a meal always ensure that you have a jug of water on the table as well as glasses of course!!. It’s a very easy habit to adopt and one that will hold your family in good stead as the years go by. Drinking water with meals rather than soft drink or cordial reduces unnecessary kilojoules as these sweet drinks are high in sugar. Even if you enjoy a glass of wine with your meal, it is still important to have a glass of water. This way you can quench your thirst with water and savour that glass of wine.  If you don’t like the taste of plain water, try adding a few orange/lemon or lime slices for extra zing.
18. Offer a fruit platter as a dessert
Another good habit to get into is to encourage the family to eat a greater variety of fruit. Instead of the old faithfuls such as apples, pears, oranges and bananas, try some of the more seasonal fruits such as melons, berries, mangoes, kiwi fruit and stone fruits. Berries and melons are very low in kilojoules , a punnet of berries or half a cantaloupe has approximately the same number of kilojoules as a banana. Involve your children in preparing the platter so that they will be more likely to eat the fruit.
19. Boost your brain power
The brain needs a steady supply of glucose to keep it well fuelled but before you get stuck into that bag of jelly beans, think again. It is better to fuel the brain with nutritious sources of carbohydrate rich foods like wholegrains and fruit as they also contain nutrients such as the B Vitamins including folate so important for brain cells. Research into rats  with Alzheimers Disease has shown that the ‘anthocyanins’ the antioxidants found in the blue/red foods like blueberries and  raspberries helps to protect the brain against premature ageing and loss of mental function. That’s why blueberries have been referred to as ‘brain berries.’
20. Drink less alcohol
It appears that we have been taking the red wine is good for you a little too far. While it is well known that the resveratrol , one of the key polyphenols  in the skins and seeds of grapes and the bark of the vines helps to protect the heart, the damage that excessive alcohol consumption can cause other organs in our body shouldn’t be disregarded. Too much alcohol can result in obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, damage to the brain, kidneys, pancreas and liver as well as increasing our risk of developing certain cancers such as breast and bowel. There are no safe drinking guidelines but between 1 to 2 standard drinks a day with 2 alcohol free days a week is deemed as drinking in moderation.